August 27, 2012 / 4:17 PM / 7 years ago

Iraqi minister steps down after row with PM

BAGHDAD, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Iraq’s communications minister resigned on Monday, blaming meddling by the Shi’ite prime minister, whose spokesman said he was the first minister to quit since the government was formed in December 2010.

Mohammed Allawi, a member of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc in a fragile, fractious, power-sharing government, said he stepped down because of repeated clashes with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s office over what he called interference.

“I present my resignation because I have become incapable of working in such an infested environment,” he said in his resignation letter, which Maliki accepted.

Infighting among Iraq’s Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish political blocs deepened after U.S. troops left the country in December, and the Shi’ite-led government sought the arrest of vice-president Tareq al-Hashemi, an Iraqiya member.

Hashemi fled to Turkey, where he remains, denying Iraqi authorities’ accusations that he ran a death squad.

The delicate cross-sectarian agreement has been crippled by crisis since it was constituted after inconclusive elections.

The Iraqiya bloc and other opponents of Maliki in government regularly accuse him of being a dictator and say the power-sharing agreement is a pretence. They recently failed in an attempt to organize a vote of no-confidence against him.

Monday’s resignation is a new blow to Iraqiya, already weakened by squabbling after its leadership, headed by Iyad Allawi, a cousin of Mohammed Allawi, failed in an attempt to boycott of cabinet after the Hashemi incident.

An adviser to Maliki, Ali al-Moussawi, told Reuters he did not expect the resignation to deepen the political crisis or to affect the performance of the government.

Sectarian tensions in Iraq have eased since the height of Sunni versus Shi’ite slaughter in 2006-2007 though insurgents still carry out attacks to incite divisions. But many Sunnis fear the Shi’ite-led government has marginalised them.

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